S.A. connection strikes again for fine double
Millard delighted with his countryman Fourie as he lands his fifth and sixth wins for stable
South African trainer Tony Millard has vowed to throw his support behind countryman Richard Fourie after the lightweight jockey scored with polished rides on two outsiders at Happy Valley last night.
More than a third of Fourie's rides have been for Millard in his first season, and he now has six wins for the stable.
"He rides a bit for us and he rode two very nice races tonight and he rides to instructions, so we will be giving him more opportunities," Millard said.
Fourie, who took his season tally to 13 winners with victories aboard Epee De Hua and Tom's Eighth, said Millard's support had been critical to settling in during his rookie year.
"He has always been supportive of me and has given me a lot of chances," said Fourie, who won the Jockey Challenge for the first time with 28 points.
"The whole team at his stable have been great - they have really pulled together, and the team work at the yard makes it easier for everyone."
As limited as Epee De Hua is, the seven-year-old has found a niche in the Hong Kong system and has now collected nearly HK$3 million in prizemoney. Fourie gave the gelding a gem of a ride from gate 12.
"He is only a Class Five horse - and he is getting older too. It is nice to win with any horse but that was very satisfying," Millard said. "This horse has won five races for me now and done a great job for the owners."
Millard's plan was to have Tom's Eighth race forward, but a slow getaway meant Fourie was forced to come from behind.
"He was standing in the gate for too long," explained Fourie. "The gap opened at the right time for him, we picked them up at the 500m and we didn't lose any momentum."
Millard said the 41-start veteran, "was due."
"He had been dropping down in the ratings and he will be running again at the New Year's meeting at Sha Tin over a mile," the trainer added.
Danny Shum Chap-shing says his Class Two winner Charity Spirit is a "one trick pony", but that one trick - the shortest trip at the city circuit - he does pretty well.
"We keep him fresh and happy - and he is limited to 1,000m here," Shum said. "But when he gets a good draw here, he always has a chance - he just needs the right situation."
Ricky Yiu Poon-fai credited "hungry" jockeys - in very different situations - for helping him to a double.
Zac Purton took advantage of the absence of suspended rival Douglas Whyte to extend his lead in the Jockeys' Championship to four wins when he scored on Impeccable, and Andreas Suborics took his tally to five with a box-seat effort on Super Fresh.
"I'll be trying to take advantage of the fact Zac wants that title really badly," Yiu said. "And Subi does a great job whenever I have him on, but probably isn't as aggressive in chasing the rides as some of the other jockeys."
Purton said of Impeccable: "He deserved a win - he is racing consistently, he is no superstar but tonight he got the right gate and the right run, it was just his day."
Cool Bean (Brett Prebble) is a horse that has always promised to produce a win, but it has been a step up to beyond a mile that has brought out his best. "Even though that was his 13th start, he is still very green," trainer Derek Cruz said. "He'll get even further as he gets older and I still think he has plenty of improvement in him."
Matthew Chadwick said being slow away on the Tony Cruz-trained Circuit Star turned out to be a blessing, as he charged home off a solid tempo to win the final race of the night.
Turnover again topped a billion dollars - HK$1.12 billion was the biggest at the track in more than a decade - and hopes are high for what should be a monster hold at the Chinese New Year meeting.